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More than a hundred children rescued from prostitution rings

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A hundred and fifty people have been arrested and 105 children have been recovered in a multi-city child prostitution sting operation, the federal Bureau if Investigations says. The 76-city sweep, conducted in the past three days is the largest such law enforcement action in the nation' history focused on the forced sexual slavery of children.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - The children ranged from 13 to 17 years old, according to Assistant FBI Director Ron Hosko, head of the bureau's criminal division. The youngest of the victims was allegedly being offered up by her father, who is suspected in the videotaping his daughter's sexual encounters.

"We have victims whose new normal is sexual abuse," Hosko said. "We are trying to take this crime out of the shadows and put a spotlight on it."

Authorities made arrests or child recoveries from Atlanta to Los Angeles in operations involving 230 separate law enforcement agencies. Called Operation Cross Country, it's the latest national campaign that has since helped recover 2,700 children since 2005.

The child victims generally recruited from foster care or group homes were being offered up on Internet sites, at truck stops, casinos and street corners. Along with at least one parent, the alleged "pimps" or procurers included individuals that acted alone or with affiliations to organized crime. The children "don't see any avenues of escape" from their handlers, Hosko said,

John Ryan, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, called the criminal activity "an escalating threat against America's children," saying the action "is saving lives."

The largest number of children in a single sweep, where the 12 under-aged minors recovered in San Francisco this past weekend. The most alleged pimps, 18, were arrested in Detroit.

Criminal charges are expected to be brought both in the state and federal courts and will involve a variety of offenses, including human trafficking and coercion.

"Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America," Hosko said. "This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable."

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